For immediate release
ALBUQUERQUE – Today in an unprecedented move, the Secretary of the Interior has recommended reducing the size of six national monuments. The report suggests changing management and some activities allowed in both our monuments in New Mexico, the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monuments. The suggestions outlined in the report are a direct attack on America’s public lands, the will of Americans across the West, and seriously hampers the ability for future generations to enjoy the outdoors.
Since the beginning of the monument “review” period, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation has submitted comments supporting keeping both of New Mexico’s monuments intact, held community-wide events with thousands of New Mexicans showing their support for Organ Mountains Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National monuments, and even met with Secretary Zinke in person in Las Cruces and in the Sabinoso Wilderness to discuss sportsmen and women’s strong support for these monuments. Despite saying he thought our monuments were a “done deal” he has still suggested making changes. Clearly, this review was done in name only, as the hundreds of thousands of comments that were submitted in support of keeping both monuments as they are were ignored and only a select handful of monuments were even visited by Interior Department staff.
“It’s as simple as this, without protected habitat we don’t have wildlife. One of the listed objects of value in the Antiquities Act is wildlife and as such one of the first uses of the act was to protect Roosevelt Elk. Today we’re turning our back on that legacy by ignoring the wildlife that depend on largescale habitats,” said New Mexico Wildlife Federation Executive Director Garrett Vene Klasen. “By potentially allowing logging, grazing, or mining in these monuments, the habitat could seriously be damaged for future generations of hunters. Secretary Zinke considers himself a sportsmen, today he has betrayed the sportsmen and women who were the driving force behind the monuments he has suggested changing.”
The monuments slated for reduction are Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cascade-Siskiyou, Gold Butte, and Pacific Rose Atoll, and the Pacific Remote Islands. The leaked report had little details but this will surely lead to years of litigation and set a dangerous precedent that it is open season on our public lands. As the report was not officially released, it’s possible changes could still happen. The Trump administration could also ignore the recommendations or change them.
The recommendations laid out in the report will surely lead to years of litigation and uncertainty, which could limit access and economic activity in both of our national monuments to the harm of New Mexicans. Local businesses, which have benefited from increased visitors to the surrounding area of the monument, will be hurt by this decision. Sportsmen and women, who worked for years to protect this area, could lose some of their most treasured hunting grounds and fishing waters.
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation will continue to fight this attack on our national monuments. We will need your help to win.